By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
The Shaheens were outclassed in their opening tie of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea by the technically stronger North Koreans, who have already secured their passage to the next round of the competition.
The tempo of the game was evident from the start as North Korea started emphatically with back-to-back freekicks in the early exchanges. However, Pakistan almost caused a Korean heartbreak with captain Kaleemullah trying his luck from a bicycle kick on the 9th minute, that didn’t eventually reach it’s intended target.
On the other end, goalkeeper Muzammil battered into the oncoming North Korean attacker and had to receive treatment on 15 minutes. Luckily the shot-stopper was able to continue but still saw the opponents gathering more possession at 59% for the first 18 minutes.
Things began to turn sour on the pitch and subsequently, it was Pakistan’s Mohammad Ahmed who receiving the game’s first booking on 37 minutes, shortly following by a red card to Mansoor Khan, who also gave away a penalty.
North Korea’s So Kyong-Jin made no mistakes from the spot and made it 1-0 for his side at half-time.
Coach Shamlan had spent the entire half motivating his players, but the technically-superior North Koreans were able to restrict Pakistan’s influence on the ball and almost doubled their tally on 61 minutes, only to be thwarted by Muzammil’s goalkeeping.
However, on 67 minutes Jong Ing-Wan essentially killed the tie with North Korea’s second of the game and although Shamlan made changes late on, it wasn’t enough to change the score line.
Pakistan now face China on 22nd September, where a draw would be sufficient enough to secure progress from the group stages.